Embark Georgia Receives Additional $1.1 Million to Expand Efforts

Charlie Bauder

Friday, April 5th, 2024

A statewide network led by the University of Georgia is receiving a boost of financial support to improve educational outcomes for youth who have experienced foster care and/or homelessness.

Embark Georgia received $1.1 million from the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation’s Child Well-Being Fund to continue strengthening and expanding the network’s efforts across Georgia. This follows the foundation’s previous gift of $750,000 to Embark Georgia in 2022.

“Youth who have experienced foster care face postsecondary educational obstacles that hinder their future economic and career opportunities,” said Jennifer Frum, vice president for public service and outreach at UGA. “We are incredibly grateful to the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation for its support of our work at UGA to address this critical issue and build a better quality of life for all young people across our state.”

Embark Georgia, which launched in 2012 and is coordinated by the UGA J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, has worked with agencies across Georgia to increase college access and retention for youth who have experienced foster care or homelessness.

Each University System of Georgia and Technical College System of Georgia campus has a Designated Point of Contact — a staff member who helps identify and provide resources to students who have experienced homelessness or foster care. Embark Georgia helps support these higher education professionals through training opportunities and campus capacity building.

“Students who have experienced foster care or homelessness are among the most economically vulnerable populations in our state,” said David Meyers, UGA Fanning Institute public service faculty member and Embark Georgia co-network director. “We appreciate this remarkable investment in Embark Georgia, our state and these young people.”

Building off the foundation’s previous gift, this latest round of funding will help Embark Georgia maintain and expand leadership training to support those Designated Points of Contact as they serve students on their respective campuses. Additionally, it will support Embark efforts at network institutions through mini-grants awarded through an application process.

The funding will also support campus-based summer programming at UGA and other locations for youth in foster care to develop personal leadership skills, obtain essential information on college preparation, learn about the college application process and discover new opportunities.

In addition, Embark Georgia will work with a select group of students from those summer programs throughout the academic year to provide additional leadership training and college access support.

“The summer precollegiate programs have shown to increase participants’ interest in postsecondary education and self-belief to pursue available opportunities,” Meyers said. “By increasing our engagement, we will be able to support these students further along their journey to increase their chances for success.”

Finally, this funding will support enhanced research efforts at UGA around Embark Georgia’s work as well as support research efforts undertaken at other USG campuses and nationally.

“Increasing resources dedicated to research and dissemination of that information in Georgia and nationally will further demonstrate the impact of this initiative on students who have experienced foster care or homelessness and elevate UGA, USG and Embark Georgia as leaders in this field,” said Lori Tiller, UGA Fanning Institute public service faculty member and Embark Georgia co-network director.

For more information on Embark Georgia, click here.